By CHRIS EKEKE, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government not to further give any bailout to companies operating in the power sector, saying if the companies don’t have the capacity and the resources, let them move out.
The President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who was speaking at the inauguration and handover ceremony of the newly elected Executive Council of the Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) at the Labour House, Abuja, expressed dissatisfaction at another N38 billion being advanced from public coffer to DISCOS as a bailout to get meters.
He said reports of the N11 trillion spent in the power sector by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in 16 years without positive results are regrettable.
Wabba also kicked against the N660 billion intervention to the sector, which be described as “already comatose”, adding that there is urgent need to reform or reverse the privatization process.
Comrade Wabba said: “Take for instance the power sector. I was really amazed when, yesterday, I was going through some of the issues we need to campaign on and I realized that the present government has already
committed about N660 billion in form of intervention to a sector that is already comatose without corresponding inputs and attendances.
“Even on the issue of metering, they are proposing to give a bail out to the DISCOS. It is obvious that we are going the wrong direction. It has been made clear that it is not about resources.
“If in about 16 years, we have so far committed about N11 trillion to the power sector reforms and yet, what we have day in day out is numerous challenges of lack of power.
Even within the city of Abuja, the Discos are busy disconnecting street lights. I am aware that during the launch of prepaid meters, the FCT administration informed us that they have committed about N500 million in paying liabilities for power to public institutions including street lights. But they are busy disconnecting the streets because once they do that, they thought that they will be able to use the power being saved from there to service others.
“We cannot continue like that because no country can make progress if we don’t have stable power supply. We made it very clear from the time we started this reform, it was clear that it was going to fail.”
The NLC president added: “How can a government that is saying we are in a recession still advance from public money N38 billion to DISCOS as bailout to look for meters. This is not a public enterprise because these companies have already been sold.
“If they don’t have the capacity and the resources, let them move out.
I think it is time the process is reversed. If it is not reversed, we will continue in the wrong direction because up to now, we have not been able to attain 10000mega watts. We are still celebrating the attainment of between 5000 and 6000 mega watts when a country like South Africa is looking beyond 40,000 mega watts.”
Wabba, who commended the leadership of LACAN for their roles over the years and the smooth election, however, advised the media and journalists to continue to “carry on with your work in line with your professionalism, diligence, passion and investigative journalism and address the issues in the work place.”